Archive for April, 2008

28
Apr
08

The American Nightmare (Sad State of American Inner Cities)

Gangs run the inner cities today the way the Mafia did two generations ago.  Drug trafficking today is every bit as profitable and dangerous as the trafficking of alcoholic beverages was during Prohibition.  The main difference today is the level of firepower available for rival gangs to destroy one another.  The problems seen in Chicago recently and repeated in Tijuana, Mexico a few nights ago bear this out.  Gangs today have the weapons to literally annihilate its opposition in one night.  God help the poor police who are supposed to stop the equivalent of small militias from destroying one another.

Gangs recruit disgruntled young people and entrap them in the gang mentality.  Quickly there becomes no way out and the only recourse is to attempt to rise through the ranks and stay alive.  The main avenue of business for gangs is drugs.  Drugs have crippled the inner city through the vicious cycle of addiction and the corresponding frantic everyday search of new money to feed the addictions.  Crack houses and meth labs along with old staples like heroine breed strung out people whose only reason for living is their next hit. 

Desperate people do desperate things.  Once addicted, there is no turning back from the lifestyle of stealing and killing to support the habit.  Crime rages unabated because of drugs.  The only winners are the gang leaders who rake in the money to keep the people addicted.  The two most profitable jobs in the inner city are drug dealer and pimp.  Next in line are the drug runners and the prostitutes.  When the money runs out in the city these “entrepreneurs” take their show on the road to the well-heeled suburbs ringing the big cities.

The American public is clueless as the extent of the drug and gang problem in their country.  Since most of middle class America lives in cozy suburbs far removed from the inner city violence, they have no concept  of how ugly life has become for those whose daily routine revolves around finding or trafficking drugs or impressing or running from gangs.  I am no fan of the Rev. Wright, but I understand the frustration and anger that has built up though years and years of living the American nightmare.

The American nightmare is as much a reality as the American dream.  While millions upon millions of predominantly white people work their jobs, live in their three bedroom/two bath tract house in a nice sub-division taking their kids to soccer, t ball and cheerleading practice; millions of predominantly black or Hispanic people cannot find any work other than minimum wage jobs, live in run down rat infested hellholes with either cheap rent or have been in the family for generations and watch their children either join gangs or get shot playing in the street.

The gulf between the lowest class in this country and every other class is staggering.  Those at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder have nothing, will never have anything and survive through the anger and rage in their hearts towards all who “sold them out” and relegated them to their pitiful existence.  This holds true regardless of race or geographic location.  Those at the bottom have lived under the boot of oppressors so long they do not know any other way to live.

The complete breakdown of the family unit is the predominant reason the extreme poor have gone from being simply that to the dangerous simmering pot of rage that boils within most inner cities.  Considering the vast majority of extremely poor children grow up without a father, many times with their mother strung out on drugs and raised by grandparents; the entire perspective of these kids is skewed from the get go.  Throw in the miserable state of inner city schools and it is very apparent why the vast majority of extremely poor inner city kids run into trouble.

That which is important to those trapped within the prisons of America’s inner cities is far different than what the vast majority of American consider vital.  Those trying to survive the American nightmare find themselves in a situation worse than in many developing countries.  These people are interested in the bare essentials of survival such as food and money to pay the light bill and could care less about Iraq or 99% of the issues the rest of America is so passionate about.  When the predominant issue is survival, all else tends to quickly be forgotten.

Is the answer to this massive breakdown of society found in new and greater government programs?  Is the answer really going to come through flooding inner cities with even more money to be wasted on boondoggles such as “public housing” that turned into cesspools of every filthy and vile habit known to man?  Is the answer to ignore the problems and simply add more police to the force to deal with the ever increasing crime rates? 

I don’t have all the answers, but there are some who have dedicated their lives to finding ways to break the stranglehold currently gripping America’s inner cities.  In future posts, I will attempt to chronicle some of the groups and programs that are working and are making a difference in individual’s lives as well as neighborhoods and entire communities.  We desperately need to find long term solutions before the problems in the cities become the problems everywhere.

24
Apr
08

The Approaching One-World Government

Can you see it?  It is everywhere and increasing rapidly.  Around every corner and atop every building the signs of an historic and thunderous change are appearing all over the world.  Every day, new stories are hitting the press exposing yet another problem so huge no one country can solve it.  Every day, someone of great international authority stands up and promotes the need for a true one-world governing body.

The United Nations has tried to portray itself as a world governing organization, but all its members know it has little influence with the major world powers.  The United States, Russia, China and Great Britain do not take orders from the U.N.  Smaller third world countries depend on the United Nations for everything from food to medicine to peace keepers and anything else they can get.  The influence of the U.N. had more or less diminished in recent years; that is until very recently.

The current food crisis following quickly upon the heels of the “climate change/global warming” crisis is allowing the United Nations to quickly become the premiere spokesman and leader for change and action.  Working with IMF, World Bank and various associations of countries; the U.N. has stepped out of the shadows and faster than anyone could have realized become the world’s spokesperson for the huge world problems exploding rapidly.

For as long as people have been reading Daniel and the book of Revelation, speculation has abounded as to the identity of the “beast” or THE Antichrist.  Everyone from Ronald Reagan to George Bush to Barak Obama has been accused of being the Antichrist.  Scholars have attempted to establish which countries are the ones mentioned in Daniel and many people have made big bucks writing books to promote their particular theory of the fulfillment of end time prophecies.

The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be revealed and be unquestionably recognized in due time.  Any attempts beforehand to figure out who they are will more than likely be automatically wrong.  What difference does it make anyway?   Even if the world knew who these two figures were, they would not believe they were evil people.  The point is that due to what is going on in the world, the framework is finally being put in place to accommodate a real one world government.

The cry of helpless masses is “somebody feed us”, the cry of multitudes caught in conflicts is “somebody save us”.  The cry of countless people who love this earth is “somebody help us save it”.  All around the world the cry of different people is for somebody to rise up and solve all the problems pressing upon so many poor people.  Somebody is bound to fulfill their wish.

The hunger situation is so far bigger than anyone realizes.  To the vast majority of Americans the only impact of the rice shortage is they are limited to 4 big bags of it at Sam’s Club.  Unless people keep meticulous account of how much they spend on groceries, they haven’t a clue that the price of everything made with grain has shot up recently.  They haven’t a clue the price of most dairy products is sky high.  They haven’t a clue that many meat items have gone up dramatically recently.

Americans are notorious for paying little or no attention to issues unless they directly affect or pertain to them, their family or job.  They can sit and listen to news talk of famine in Haiti and have no clue it is a country very close to Florida.  They can read the paper and see a headline about rice going to $25 and could care less.  In their mind why should they care, they only eat rice as a side dish once a week.

Americans are far more pre-occupied with who is winning NBA basketball games, who will be drafted where in the NFL draft on Saturday and who is still on American Idol to worry about starving people in some country they have never heard of.  For the most part, they do not even want to hear about anyone else’s problems in their own country.

Right or wrong, like it or not; the vast majority of Americans simply want to be left alone to live their life, work their job, raise their family and watch television.  They want to light up the grill and eat burgers or ribs, drink a few brews and shoot the breeze for hours on end.  They want to complain about their boss, their spouse and the “stupid” people that cause all the problems for everyone else.  Yes, there are millions upon millions of Americans that have absolutely no interest in hearing about, reading about or getting involved in doing anything about the truckload of problems out there.

So, if no one wants to get involved and fix the problems, that pretty much leaves the government to do it.  For the government, any government, to fix all the hunger and other social ills costs money.  In America, since money grows in space, the government just prints some more of the green stuff to pay people to do nothing, pay people to get  sick, pay people to not work, pay people to get old, pay people to have babies and even pay people to go waste some money on a plasma television to “stimulate the economy”. 

America is good at just printing more money to pay for everything from ridiculous wars to the national debt.  Nine trillion dollars this country is in debt and every day more billions are promised to this cause or that group or this pork project or that war.  Meanwhile our money is the laughingstock of the world and the price of oil just goes up along with just about every other commodity.  When will it ever stop?  When enough people decide to get down off their deck and take one of their extra burgers to help feed a starving person who spent all their money to fill up their gastank.

21
Apr
08

CRITICAL SITUATION: Fuel Costs Killing Small Charities

Welcome to the Real World.

As the vast majority of Americans continue to sit back pretending nothing to terribly wrong is going on with the country, the lower echelons of society are feeling the first huge waves of the coming economic storm.  There are hundreds of thousands of upper middle class Americans who honestly can’t say it makes a bit of difference what gasoline is selling for since they never look at the bill; they have enough money to not be bothered.

On the other end of the spectrum are hundreds of thousands of lower income people, many trying to survive working minimum wage jobs, who are daily having to make choices between food and gas or medicine or electricity.  With more and more of their income being devoured by ever escalating prices for food staples and gasoline; there is no disposable income left for any emergency. 

In many of the bigger cities as well as along the Gulf coast, many food pantries and shelters have already closed and what few are left cannot find supplies.  As more and more of the last elements of the social safety net are withdrawn it leads to desperate people doing more and more desperate things.  Crime is dramatically rising in areas which only a few months ago had little or no crime.  Petty thefts as well as armed robberies are increasing at an alarming rate.

If the shelters, community outreach programs, food pantries and other services designed to help people get through the tough times until they can stand on their feet again collapse; who is left to cover the needs?  Fewer and fewer churches play an active role in helping the poor.  Fewer and fewer charities have the resources to offer more than a referral service to other agencies.  State and local governments are strapped for resources and do not have the means to step in and help.

If within a few days a mid-sized community has several bank robberies, numerous dollar stores held up and even the school cafeteria broken into to find food; is this not a pretty clear indication something is wrong?  The numbers of hurting people are climbing each day.  The numbers of homeless are increasing daily.  The numbers of frustrated people who are at their wits end and ready to snap is dramatically increasing every day.

Fuel Costs Make Transporting Food Difficult

One of the most frustrating situations to have arisen is that there is still food in the warehouses of major charities who send tons of food every year overseas and to outreach centers in this country.  The problem at the moment is finding the money to pay the sky high fuel costs to transport food from the warehouse to the destination it is needed.  With diesel prices well over $4.00 per gallon, even the truckers who want to help cannot afford to run an empty semi to a warehouse, pick up a load of food, take it to the outreach center needing it and then run an empty truck back home—all for free.

There used to be many truckers willing to pick up a load if it were on their way and their truck was empty.  It is even getting difficult to find those able to do this anymore.  Independent truckers are just barely making enough to stay in business running full loads all the time.  As much as they want to help, the cost of diesel is making it extremely difficult to provide “free hauls”.

A case in point is Tri Coastal Community Outreach in Grand Bay, Alabama.  They have a full semi of food available to them if they can pick it up in Nashville on April 24th.  It is a one time and one day shot.  All attempts to find anyone to help have failed.  The best offer from a trucking company was close to $1,500 to transport the load less than 500 miles from Nashville to Mobile.  Where on earth does a small community outreach center find $1,500? 

For lack of any better way to do it.  Members of the group will drive to Nashville, rent two 26 foot trucks and one car tow bar, load the two trucks, and then drive them (with one towing the car) back to Alabama.  The estimated cost for all this will be $700-800.  But, being good stewards, this is the only way to get the food.  Or is it?

The Need for Fuel Sponsors

There is an urgent need for sponsors to step up and help with fuel costs to transport food and other supplies to destinations in need.  I see no reason why groups of professionals could not pool their charitable gifts together and make them available to groups such as Tri Coastal to provide for proper  transportation of goods instead of the kind of arrangement they must do this week.   Even doing it as they are, the cost is still staggering.  Transportation costs are quickly becoming a huge issue for not only non-profits but many charities doing construction and other services.

If you are a professional and desire to really see your charitable giving do the most good, consider making a special fund that is to be used strictly for the transportation costs of getting resources from supply houses to outreach centers.  Any group doing full scale community outreach is in desperate need of food and other supplies that many times are located all over the United States.  Any of these groups who are 501 (c) 3 charities should be able to develop a program where donations can be received specifically designated for transportation costs.

The Need for Consistent Resources

The directors of most community outreach/homeless shelters/food pantries and other service charities spend most of their time trying to locate money or resources.  Instead of being able to oversee case work or develop plans and programs to better serve the people in need; too much of their time has to be spent tracking down the means to meet the needs.  They all need consistent and reliable sources for food, clothing, furniture, building supplies and other vital resources. 

Church groups, service organizations, clubs and societies as well as schools and businesses can all do drives on a regular basis for some of these groups.  Many of these groups have programs in place for organizations or individuals to systematically give on a regular and set basis.  To stick around for the long haul, these groups need to know where supplies are coming from next.

The Need Will Only Get Worse

As the economic situation is this country continues to go downhill, the needs among the poor will only skyrocket, and this is due to a dramatic increase in numbers of people in need in addition to greater and greater need.  The first round of failures among care givers is staggering and quite discouraging.  Those left are handling far more case loads than they were expecting.  Budgets and resources are being stretched to the absolute limit. 

Before the situation gets much worse, please consider providing assistance where you can to those still involved with trying to help those in the lowest socio-economic levels.  If there is anyone who deserves a helping hand and someone to aid them in their times of intense personal and financial turmoil it is those who through no fault of their own have “fallen through the cracks” of our social welfare system.

17
Apr
08

Believe for the Best and Prepare for the Worst

As the great and mighty Titanic slowly sunk, evidently the band continued to play until their last breath.  Those people who spend their days buying and selling stocks strike me as much the same.  They grasp at any hint of a positive to somehow justify a one day “rally” in the stock market.  On a day when the economic news was predominantly bad; one CEO of one financial institution makes one positive statement and the market shoots up over 200 points.  This, ladies and gentlemen is called “delusion”.

I was listening to an “expert” who advises other “experts” on what to expect on commodities.   The interviewer asked him to please explain the current run up of the price of oil.  There was a lot of hemming and hawing and finally the guy said he had no explanation.  He then went on to say that no one can account for huge quantities of missing oil and gasoline.  There was a long pause and finally the host simply said “huh”.

It seems that all the experts were expecting a jump in the supply of oil and gasoline supplies.  Thus, they were advising everyone that the price of oil was going to go down.  Lo and behold oil just keeps going up to new records every day and instead of the supplies of oil and gasoline going up they went dramatically down.  What is very interesting is that no one has a clue as to where all this oil and gasoline went.

Now, pardon me for being a little sarcastic here, but how on God’s green earth do you “lose” oil and gasoline?  Did someone forget where they placed a few tankers full of oil and a few hundred trucks full of gasoline?  I am sorry, but I cannot believe you can simply “lose” large quantities of oil and gasoline.  Evidently not only naïve common citizens, but also “experts” do, for no one is asking any questions.

Meanwhile, the price for a gallon of gasoline just keeps going up and up and up.  Today, I had the unfortunate job of having to fill four 5 gallon cans with diesel fuel for my lawnmower.  I also had to fill up my minivan with unleaded gasoline.  The final bill for 20 gallons of diesel and 15 gallons of gasoline was almost $130.  Last year it would have cost about $75.

1 Thessalonians 5 says that people will be saying “peace and safety” all the way up to the end.  Jesus said that, just as in the days of Noah, people will be living as they always have up until the end.  It is not surprising at all to hear various “experts” keep telling people that “the worst is over” or “all will be well financially by summertime” in this country.  Anyone willing to entrust their life’s savings to people who can’t even tell you how huge quantities of oil and gasoline managed to disappear may deeply regret it.

We are one major event away from $6 or even $7 per gallon gasoline.  If a major political leader were assassinated or any kind of war broke out in the Middle East or a major earthquake hit California or in a few months if a hurricane hit the Gulf Coast or a major refinery closed down; the immediate spike in the price of gasoline and diesel would push the prices to near $5 per gallon.  Many believe if a hurricane like Katrina hit again this summer, gasoline could hit $7 per gallon.

I do not tell you these things to be a “fear monger” or an “alarmist”; I share them so that we all can seek to prepare ourselves for what could be a very difficult time ahead.  If I were at liberty to share even half of what I know is going on or soon will be; I would either be hauled away to “facility” or you would not be able to sleep for a week.   Since I do not want either of those things, I will for now simply speak of “what ifs” and in vague terms.

The missing gasoline and oil had to go somewhere.  Either the oil companies aren’t being honest in their reporting of supplies thus causing prices to keep going up (along with profits); or massive amounts of petroleum products have been diverted secretly to another location.  Keep in mind it takes a lot of gasoline and diesel to conduct a war. 

Something to keep in mind today and for the next four or five days; one year ago yesterday was the shootings at Virginia Tech University.  In 1999 at this time were the shootings at Columbine.  In 1995 was the Oklahoma City bombing.  In 1993 was the invasion at Waco.  Many profound events have taken place during this period of April for it is a high and holy time for witchcraft.  Lest anyone think otherwise, much of what goes on in this country is directly or indirectly related to things being practiced by the many people in high positions of leadership who are involved with various forms of witchcraft.

Something of profound importance is going to happen either within the next few days or weeks.  Neither I nor anyone else knows exactly what is “coming down”; all anyone knows is that something is scheduled to take place which will dramatically change the landscape of the world.  Whether natural, economic, political or military related; do not be surprised or alarmed to hear or see something take place very soon that will truly alter your life.

Looking back to the morning of September 11, 2001 the reason the events that day were so profound was because they were totally unexpected.  The shock value was magnified by those who planned and carried out the attack perfectly.  Since no one expected what happened; no one was prepared to handle the mental, financial and other repercussions that followed.  Always remember the object of a terrorist attack is to produce terror.  Also remember that terrorist don’t just have to be from a foreign country.

The secret to the devil’s success is the secrecy of his moves.  Once exposed, he has no choice but to retreat and plan a new strategy.  Please look upon the information in this post as simply vital information that is being given to expose ahead of time certain things the enemy may or may not be up to.  We live in perilous times 2 Timothy 3 tells us.  Because we do, we CANNOT allow ourselves to either become deluded into thinking all is well when it is not, or to become afraid and act irrationally out of fear.

These are times to think things through and make plans and provisions for various scenarios.  As very wise people have said many times; “Believe for the best but prepare for the worst.”  Those who live and make their plans by this motto will not be caught off guard or cast into a panic by anything that might arise in the days ahead.  Those who invest a little now to be prepared are the ones who will have much to share with others who didn’t prepare.  After all, wasn’t this the exact thing God had Joseph do in Egypt which allowed ultimately his very family to reunite with him? 

I pray that regardless of what may or may not transpire in the coming days and weeks that we, as God’s people are ready for anything and equal to everything through Him who infuses us with power and strength.  I pray that we remain vigilant, watchful and ever on our guard so as to never get be caught by surprise and thus become vulnerable.  I pray that as end times events unfold, we are rejoicing in the realization that we know what is happening and where we are going.

 

 

 

As the great and mighty Titanic slowly sunk, evidently the band continued to play until their last breath.  Those people who spend their days buying and selling stocks strike me as much the same.  They grasp at any hint of a positive to somehow justify a one day “rally” in the stock market.  On a day when the economic news was predominantly bad; one CEO of one financial institution makes one positive statement and the market shoots up over 200 points.  This, ladies and gentlemen is called “delusion”.

I was listening to an “expert” who advises other “experts” on what to expect on commodities.   The interviewer asked him to please explain the current run up of the price of oil.  There was a lot of hemming and hawing and finally the guy said he had no explanation.  He then went on to say that no one can account for huge quantities of missing oil and gasoline.  There was a long pause and finally the host simply said “huh”.

It seems that all the experts were expecting a jump in the supply of oil and gasoline supplies.  Thus, they were advising everyone that the price of oil was going to go down.  Lo and behold oil just keeps going up to new records every day and instead of the supplies of oil and gasoline going up they went dramatically down.  What is very interesting is that no one has a clue as to where all this oil and gasoline went.

Now, pardon me for being a little sarcastic here, but how on God’s green earth do you “lose” oil and gasoline?  Did someone forget where they placed a few tankers full of oil and a few hundred trucks full of gasoline?  I am sorry, but I cannot believe you can simply “lose” large quantities of oil and gasoline.  Evidently not only naïve common citizens, but also “experts” do, for no one is asking any questions.

Meanwhile, the price for a gallon of gasoline just keeps going up and up and up.  Today, I had the unfortunate job of having to fill four 5 gallon cans with diesel fuel for my lawnmower.  I also had to fill up my minivan with unleaded gasoline.  The final bill for 20 gallons of diesel and 15 gallons of gasoline was almost $130.  Last year it would have cost about $75.

1 Thessalonians 5 says that people will be saying “peace and safety” all the way up to the end.  Jesus said that, just as in the days of Noah, people will be living as they always have up until the end.  It is not surprising at all to hear various “experts” keep telling people that “the worst is over” or “all will be well financially by summertime” in this country.  Anyone willing to entrust their life’s savings to people who can’t even tell you how huge quantities of oil and gasoline managed to disappear may deeply regret it.

We are one major event away from $6 or even $7 per gallon gasoline.  If a major political leader were assassinated or any kind of war broke out in the Middle East or a major earthquake hit California or in a few months if a hurricane hit the Gulf Coast or a major refinery closed down; the immediate spike in the price of gasoline and diesel would push the prices to near $5 per gallon.  Many believe if a hurricane like Katrina hit again this summer, gasoline could hit $7 per gallon.

I do not tell you these things to be a “fear monger” or an “alarmist”; I share them so that we all can seek to prepare ourselves for what could be a very difficult time ahead.  If I were at liberty to share even half of what I know is going on or soon will be; I would either be hauled away to “facility” or you would not be able to sleep for a week.   Since I do not want either of those things, I will for now simply speak of “what ifs” and in vague terms.

The missing gasoline and oil had to go somewhere.  Either the oil companies aren’t being honest in their reporting of supplies thus causing prices to keep going up (along with profits); or massive amounts of petroleum products have been diverted secretly to another location.  Keep in mind it takes a lot of gasoline and diesel to conduct a war. 

Something to keep in mind today and for the next four or five days; one year ago yesterday was the shootings at Virginia Tech University.  In 1999 at this time were the shootings at Columbine.  In 1995 was the Oklahoma City bombing.  In 1993 was the invasion at Waco.  Many profound events have taken place during this period of April for it is a high and holy time for witchcraft.  Lest anyone think otherwise, much of what goes on in this country is directly or indirectly related to things being practiced by the many people in high positions of leadership who are involved with various forms of witchcraft.

Something of profound importance is going to happen either within the next few days or weeks.  Neither I nor anyone else knows exactly what is “coming down”; all anyone knows is that something is scheduled to take place which will dramatically change the landscape of the world.  Whether natural, economic, political or military related; do not be surprised or alarmed to hear or see something take place very soon that will truly alter your life.

Looking back to the morning of September 11, 2001 the reason the events that day were so profound was because they were totally unexpected.  The shock value was magnified by those who planned and carried out the attack perfectly.  Since no one expected what happened; no one was prepared to handle the mental, financial and other repercussions that followed.  Always remember the object of a terrorist attack is to produce terror.  Also remember that terrorist don’t just have to be from a foreign country.

The secret to the devil’s success is the secrecy of his moves.  Once exposed, he has no choice but to retreat and plan a new strategy.  Please look upon the information in this post as simply vital information that is being given to expose ahead of time certain things the enemy may or may not be up to.  We live in perilous times 2 Timothy 3 tells us.  Because we do, we CANNOT allow ourselves to either become deluded into thinking all is well when it is not, or to become afraid and act irrationally out of fear.

These are times to think things through and make plans and provisions for various scenarios.  As very wise people have said many times; “Believe for the best but prepare for the worst.”  Those who live and make their plans by this motto will not be caught off guard or cast into a panic by anything that might arise in the days ahead.  Those who invest a little now to be prepared are the ones who will have much to share with others who didn’t prepare.  After all, wasn’t this the exact thing God had Joseph do in Egypt which allowed ultimately his very family to reunite with him? 

I pray that regardless of what may or may not transpire in the coming days and weeks that we, as God’s people are ready for anything and equal to everything through Him who infuses us with power and strength.  I pray that we remain vigilant, watchful and ever on our guard so as to never get be caught by surprise and thus become vulnerable.  I pray that as end times events unfold, we are rejoicing in the realization that we know what is happening and where we are going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15
Apr
08

Simple Things; Dad , Dogs and an Older Brother

There is within all of us the yearning to please someone.  God initially placed this in us in relation to Him.  During those times we are not in His will, the desire to please switches to either ourselves or someone else.  We have all known people who spend all of their time trying to please the boss or someone of authority.  There are many names given to people who do this, none are proper to post on this site.

We all know what these people are doing, yet many times the one they are doing it to is clueless.  This is because people enjoy being pleased.  Most everyone, if they were honest, would have to admit to feeling good when someone lavishes them with praise and seeks to do whatever it takes to bless them.  Also built into us is the desire to be pleased.

I must admit that I am partial to “man’s best friend” (no offence to cat lovers), but there is something about a dog that makes this subject come alive.  A dog is actually quite easily pleased.  A dog will readily show his pleasure at something by means of a wagging tail.  Oh if it were so easy to know if we have succeeded in blessing people.

I cannot begin to remember all the times over the years when I have felt badly, either physically or emotionally and immediately felt better and been uplifted by the wagging tail of one of our dogs.  I have stumbled home at times over the years beaten up and beaten down by vicious attacks from various sources and within an instant had all the pain and turmoil relieved by the very obvious delight expressed by one or more dogs at seeing me come home.

There is nothing that heals one’s heart up quicker than being wanted and needed.  A dog has the incredible ability to provide this in unmistakable ways.  Whether friendly barks, wagging tails, licks to the face or intense rubbing up against one’s leg or body; a dog lets you know right away that he is the happiest creature on earth to see you home.  Perhaps we should learn a few lessons from our dogs when it comes to how we view our spouses and children or parents.

Awhile back , we started watching ancient episodes of “Leave It To Beaver” from the late 1950’s that run constantly on various cable networks.  Among the many things I love about the first two seasons of that show is the innocence of the family unit.  Every day when Ward comes home from work, he opens the door and announces “I’m home”.  Every day, when Ward comes home, June is there to welcome him home with a kiss.  Every day, the first question is “where are the boys”, for that was the most important thing to him (besides reading the paper).

Of course the show did not portray the real life of any family, but it did represent a bit of 1958 life in America.  Back before the days of constant electronic distractions, life was much simpler and much more emphasis was placed on the family than even a decade later.  Families were genuinely happy to see each other instead of making excuses to avoid each other.

When I was around ten, my parents worked either the afternoon or night shifts to make enough money to support us.  There were many days that my older brother had take care of me from the time we came home from school till we went to bed.  He was 7 ½ years older than I was and to me he was the coolest guy on earth.  I was thrilled whenever we were told he would be “the father” on a particular evening.  Why?  Because that meant it was a “Dog and Shake” night.

About two blocks from our house was the original Pizza Hut.  It was a tiny little building no bigger than most storage sheds people put lawn mowers in.  In the same parking lot as the Pizza Hut was an equally small little building that housed the illustrious “Dog and Shake” fast food place.  They specialized in hot dogs and milkshakes, but also had very good hamburgers.  This was before the days of McDonalds and Burger Kings everywhere. 

On these special days, we would head up the place around 5:30 and to me, it was the most exciting trip I ever got to make.  Nothing beat walking those few blocks with my big brother.  It made me feel special, and honored to be in his presence, for to me, he was best big brother on earth.  He even let me place the order sometimes.  That made me feel like a grown up. 

We would get the bag with whatever we chose to eat that night (which was always the same thing) and make the return trip home smelling the aroma of our highly anticipated evening meal the whole way.  We would then settle down in front of the television and watch what was usually the news at that time of night while eating our feast fit for two kings.  Oh those were the days.

It didn’t take much to make me feel like the most important kid in Kansas back in 1963.  All it took was the genuine love of a brother whom I looked up to as Beaver Cleaver looked up to Wally.  I can recall many years of my life when I received the greatest pleasure a kid could ever experience from times with my brother, my dad and my dog.  What has happened to our culture that it takes movies, electronic games, computers and high priced toys of every type to amuse us and bring us pleasure in life?

Looking back, I thank God for Dad, dogs and my brother more than anything else in life back 45 years ago.

13
Apr
08

Celebrating Thanksgiving In April

Please think about this for a moment.  You go to school for 12 years to earn a high school degree.  Then you (or your parents) spend thousands of dollars to send you to college.  You find a prestigious job and start climbing the ladder of success.  You reach a point where your salary allows you to live a comfortable lifestyle, which in turn allows you to purchase a nice big house in the suburbs.  Your kids attend a nice school, are on every sports team in existence and regularly are on the honor roll.  You sit back in your family room, with ribs grilling out on the deck and think; “I am living the American Dream, I am prosperous, I am rich, I am well known and respected, I have it all and am so thankful”.

This scenario provides the definition of “the more abundant life”for most people.  I personally know many people who fit this description perfectly.  They sit down on Thanksgiving and enjoy a day of fellowship with family and friends, watch some football and eat way too much.  They enjoy the fruits of THEIR labor and all THEY have through all THEIR hard work.  Somehow in THEIR self gratitude, they  feebly offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God before they carve the turkey.

Now let us allow this story to take a dark twist.  Just after the meal, when everyone is sitting around in the state of gluttony induced intoxification; the host suddenly drops dead of a heart attack.  What happened to the picture perfect Thanksgiving celebration?  Suddenly, instead of “thanksgiving” there are wild accusations flying as to that unfair god in heaven who took someone at the wrong time and a general sense of panic and doom.  See, true thanksgiving cannot be dependent on outward circumstances, for they may change in an instant. 

Here is an immutable principle which is as true as God Himself:  If you want to live in a state of perpetual thanksgiving, you must abide in humility.  Humility is the state of mind wherein pride, ego and haughty self-sufficiency have been crucified with Christ.  Humility is found in the profound realization that you are nothing but a walking pile of dust without the life of God flowing through you.  Humility is taking all the great things YOU accomplished in this life and burning them up in a great bonfire.  Humility is the understanding that without God, His Son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit; YOU ARE NOTHING.

I do not believe it is possible to walk in a state of genuine thanksgiving without being in a state of absolute humility.  Without humility, what is called thankfulness is merely gratitude.  Genuine thankfulness comes from the depths of the heart and soul.  Gratitude is simply an outward expression acknowledging the receipt of something.  It is equivalent to saying “thank you”.  There is a huge difference between saying “thank you” and walking in a state of genuine thanksgiving.

When looking at the men Jesus called to be his disciples, one of the common denominators among them was that in order to follow him, they had to forsake all.  James and John were partners with Simon Peter in a commercial fishing business.  Luke 5:11 says that; “they forsook all, and followed him”.  These men simply dropped what they were doing, which was their livelihood, and started following Jesus.  Can you imagine the scorn and ridicule these men faced by family and friends?  “Irresponsible, selfish, and deplorable”; this is what these men heard as they forsook their nets to become “fishers of men”.

Jesus demanded the forsaking of all this world deems important to follow him.  There was no negotiation and there were no exceptions.  Jesus demanded the men who were to become his apostles be “humiliated” according to the world’s view, in order to be exalted by him and His Father.  That’s right; each one of Jesus disciples had to turn his back on his education, family, profession and accomplishments if they were to follow him.  When reading Philippians chapter 3, you see that the last disciple Jesus personally called, Paul, had to do the same thing.  Humility is an absolute prerequisite for discipleship, service and ultimately; thanksgiving in this life and rewards for eternity.

Some might think this an odd time to bring up the subject of humility, but to me, it is the very best time.  While those in and of this world pause to express gratitude for all their accomplishments, we who are children of God and servants of Jesus Christ should stop and give thanks, not so much for what we have, but for who we are. 

Romans 10:9 demanded the utmost of humility.  We had to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.  When we bent our knees in humble adoration and confessed with our tongues that God made the same Jesus who was humiliated and crucified both Lord and Christ; we received the miracle of the new birth.  At that moment we got “born again” we received sonship into the family of God.  We became heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.  We received the gift of eternal life.  These are the things to be thankful for, not just at Thanksgiving, but every moment of our lives.  We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but He has made us alive with Christ and seated us in the heavenly places with Him.

Through our humility, and the agreement to “follow him”, we received the awesome opportunity to be a doulos, a bonded and branded slave for our Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.  If service is viewed as a privilege and honor, than there is no greater honor than being “sold out” to Jesus Christ as his “dog soldier”, staked to Him and His cause.  With this awesome honor, comes thankfulness to be so chosen.  Truly we are blessed beyond measure through the grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

We should  be thankful for the unbelievable privilege we have to “forsake all and follow Jesus”.  It truly is the height of irony to be thankful for losing things instead of gaining them.  The true heart of thanksgiving is manifested in the humility of self-sacrifice.  The willingness to “surrender all” is not something to dread but something to be extremely thankful for.  I know of nothing that brings my heart more joy than to stand in God’s presence, having thrown off all my dirty rags, and allow Him to bathe my soul with His light, love and glory. 

As Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13:

“Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Our thankfulness is not in “things”, but in Christ who enables us to be content regardless of our material state.  I leave you with Paul’s words to Timothy in 1Timothy 6:6-8:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”.

God richly bless you and stay thankful.

10
Apr
08

The Cry of More and More People; “I Can’t Afford to Get Sick”

For the past few years, I have had to stop everything and go get various teeth worked on.  I have had countless fillings, numerous root canals and 9 extractions.  I did not ask for teeth problems, I inherited them.  My mom had all her teeth pulled when she was 40 and her mom and sisters all had the same condition.  Back in her day they would just pull all the teeth and put a set of dentures in and be done with it.

Current dental guidelines are to do everything possible to “save the tooth”.  What starts with fairly inexpensive fillings moves up to very expensive crowns and root canals.  If teeth are extracted, options such as bridges and implants are nice looking but prohibitively expensive.  For people with normal teeth I suppose this is a good way of dealing with problems that arise.  For people such as myself, my mouth has become a bottomless money pit.

Today, after spending well over $1,000 at various times to “save” one of my teeth, it had to be extracted.  What do I have to show for my investment?  A hole in my mouth and prospects of many more thousands of dollars to get a bridge.  In my lifetime, including all the times my parents dragged me to the dentist to fill every tooth with mercury fillings when I was a child, I would imagine that there has been close to $50,000 of dental work done inside my mouth over the past 50 years

In 1998 I was out of state helping get my dad get situated in a nursing home after a stroke.  I had a heart attack and ended up having emergency by-pass surgery.  The hospital I was taken to was not part of my insurance “preferred network” so they were able to bill the insurance the full amount and GET PAID the full amount billed.  A week in the hospital and all surgical costs etc. ended up costing the insurance company $73,000.  An “in network” hospital would have been about $30,000.

Due to complications from that surgery along with other physical issues, the total amount paid the past ten years to keep me “healthy” has to be over $250,000.  So, between my mouth, heart and other members of my body; it has cost more than $300,000 to keep me alive and smiling.  I can guarantee you I do not smile when I think that my part of this bill is somewhere around $50,000.

During the latter half of 1997 I encountered chest pains and had to endure 7 heart caths  as one artery  kept collapsing around stents placed in it and new stents were put in.  By December of 1997 I had six stents in the right coronary artery alone.  My heart attack and by-pass was three months later after all six stents failed.  Just as in the case of my teeth, all the pain and expense of the multiple stent placements ended up being wasted.

Despite having a decent health insurance plan, the relentless co-pays and deductibles over the years have taken their toll.  Just since January 1st of this year, I have had to see specialists 10 times for various situations.  At $35 per visit, that is $350 just in co-pays.  I have also had to see my “primary care” doctor 6 times at $25 per visit.  I have had to pay $500 in co-pays in three months.  Of course doctors have to schedule tests and procedures to find out what is wrong.  With a $500 deductable and insurance only paying 70% of such tests; the amount spent has become a staggering figure totally out of my wife and my ability to pay. 

I also have had to go to Emergency Rooms twice and there is an automatic $100 co-pay for each visit.  God forbid I ever have to spend a night in the hospital, for there is a $500 per day co-pay.  And this is all with a good insurance policy.  The only way we have survived is through my wife’s medical reimbursement plan at work.  Unfortunately it only pays up to $2,000 annually.

Being sick of course means having drugs.  Even using our mail order plan, the cost is staggering.  Since half the drugs prescribed are not liked by the insurance company, the co-pays on many drugs are $80 for a three month supply or $40 for a one month supply at the local pharmacy.  When adding into the mix the cost of gasoline to run all over creation to various doctors and tests; the end result is financial misery and near disaster.

With all the talk about the mortgage crisis and price of gasoline; people have forgotten where their money really is being thrown away.  Even with insurance, the amount of money it takes to try and get better when sick or injured is mind boggling.  I personally know many people who literally “cannot afford to get sick” as they say.  Most of these people ARE sick and refuse to go to the doctor because of expense.  I think we all know what happens to sick people who do not get medical attention—they just get sicker.

If not already, the average family in this country will soon be caught in the horrible predicament of deciding between food and medicine, paying the mortgage vs. paying the health insurance premium, not seeking medical attention vs. filling the gas tank up with gas and other gut wrenching choices.  Considering people must eat, have a home to live in and be able to drive; the handwriting is on the wall as to what is coming.

There is a crisis looming on the horizon and it is NOT just regarding those with no health insurance.  The crisis is over choices that people are being forced into due to the economic situation in general.  Medical needs are being neglected out of lack of funds to pay the staggering out of pocket costs associated with even the good insurance policies.  Before long, few of us will be able to afford to get sick, have a toothache or slip and fall on the ice.  That is indeed a scary thought.